One of the things new moms always talk about is the rate at which their child grows—they just can’t seem to stay in one size! Babies triple their birth weight in their first year of life, growing about 1.5 pounds and 1.5 inches each month on average. This is good news and a sign of a healthy baby, but it does present some trouble when it comes to planning for baby clothes. It also means that, by the time you no longer have an infant around, you’ve probably got a dresser or two full of barely worn baby outfits that you can pass along to another new mom.
Most new parents are inundated with gifts and donations from those around them. It takes a village, right? But it presents some conundrums for new moms. What do you need to buy new? Do you have to accept hand-me-downs even if you don’t necessarily need them? Can you get away with buying nothing new? We’ll answer these questions and more in this guide to new, used and hand-me-down baby clothes to help new parents decide where to spend and where to save.
What Do I Need to Buy New?
One thing you need to remember when planning your new baby’s wardrobe is that newborns are messy. Especially in those first weeks, they go through several outfits a day. At this juncture, it’s important that you stock up on cheap essentials that you don’t feel pressure to keep nice. We recommend buying eight to 10 plain Onesies® during this phase. These essential, basic bodysuits are affordable compared to your fancy baby clothes so it won’t matter so much if they get ruined. They can be worn as top layers at home or beneath layers when out and about.
We also recommend stocking up on some organic baby clothes made of organic cotton to ensure that your little one doesn’t have a negative reaction to any of the materials that might cause skin irritation or allergies. You just never know how baby’s skin will react, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and keep a few natural, gentle items on hand. For many new parents, buying a new take-me-home outfit is an important part of the planning process, so if it’s in your budget, go ahead and splurge on a cute set that baby can come home in and wear in newborn photos.
Tips for Buying New Baby Clothes
If you’ve never had a baby before, buying new clothes can seem a bit daunting. Here are some quick tips on how to successfully stock your little one’s closet (or start with the essentials) using new baby wear:
- SIZING—The most important thing you need to know about sizing baby clothing is that it’s sized by age (newborn to 4T, for example), which is helpful when you’re planning before baby arrives. However, for the best fit once your bundle is born, reference the brand’s size chart and buy based on baby’s height and weight.
- QUANTITIES—How much of everything do you need? There’s no right answer, but a handful of plain bodysuits, a couple of sleepers and a cute Onesies for playtime is usually enough. Just remember that babies grow at their own pace, and there’s no real way to know exactly how much baby clothing you need. It’s okay and necessary to estimate.
- MATERIALS—Know before you shop that newborn skin is delicate, so you want to steer clear of any materials, appliques or accents that might bother her skin. That scratchy tulle tutu is uh-dor-able, but there’s a good chance it will cause a rash. We recommend sticking to durable, practical and natural materials like organic cotton and keeping gentle detergents, lotions and bath products on hand for baby.
What Can I Accept Used?
So that leaves us with the question…Should you amass an ever-growing second-hand stash? The short answer is “absolutely, yes!” especially if you’re on a budget. The truth is that kids are expensive and confusing, so it can be incredibly helpful if you have a fellow new parent on hand to dispense wisdom and apparel. But there are a few things you should know about accepting hand-me-downs before you go rifling through your friend’s closet claiming all the cutest stuff!
- Don’t Take What She Won’t Wear—The first thing to know about accepting second-hand kids’ clothes is that you should never take what you don’t need. If you’ve already got a stash of sleepers and shoes, or if your pal has a unique way of dressing her baby that you’re not into, pass so that other moms have the chance to snag what you won’t. Never feel that you have to accept hand-me-down clothing simply to be polite. Your friend will notice if your little one is never wearing the stuff she donated.
- Focus on Used Toddler Clothes—Your friends and family will undoubtedly shower you with brand-new clothing and gifts, and a good majority of those items will be meant for baby’s first year of life. If friends are already offering you clothes for baby’s toddler years or even beginning at 12M, grab them! You’ll feel like you’re starting from scratch when toddler time rolls around.
- Return the Favor—Last but not least, know that there is an expectation that you share your hand-me-downs with other new moms that come into your life after your little one has outgrown them. On the same note, offer to return any big-ticket items to the original donor so that she may give them to other new parents in need.
Planning for Baby’s Arrival
It’s a fact: You’ll probably need (and appreciate) a mix of new, used and hand-me-down clothes throughout your child’s life. The key is to estimate what you need and buy or accept based on what you’ll actually use. Don’t forget to offer up your little one’s clothes as hand-me-downs when it’s your time—it’s good karma!